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Title: What I Cannot Speak
Author: S. B. Rusco
Type: Poetry Collection
Published: 2019
Pages: 91

“Love lives
between the lines
of holding on
and letting go


But giving up?
That is never love

– you got it wrong”


I don’t often read poetry, so when the opportunity to review a poetry collection appeared in my inbox, I was immediately intrigued. As I mostly read novels, a poetry collection has to be sold well in order to make me want to read it. In her own words, the author described this one as so: “I refer to it as a coming-of-age story in adulthood. It covers the time from my college years, through marriage, having children, heartache, and recovery. The sections in the book are in chronological order and it is set in a memoir style.” The fact it spanned so many years was firstly what piqued my interest, but then also, the fact that the subject matter was about her life, and its mundanity, piqued my interest even more. As with the literature I read, I find the most extraordinary subjects are always those which stem from the ordinary, so after that, it was easy, I definitely wanted to read these poems!

Firstly, I adore the cover of this collection; I know I know, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but let’s face it, if you don’t like the cover, you’re not going to want to read it! But when this arrived in the post, I was in love, which just made me more excited to read it.

I really liked the sections the book was broken into: your inability to love, your lovemaking, your betrayal, your child, and self-discovery. As the poems are presented in chronological order, this made for a nice progression from one to the other, plus as poems can be quite subjective, and sometimes hard to decipher, this gave a little context to them which was nice as well.

Interestingly, most of the poems are fewer than three or four lines, but the ones I found myself enjoying the most were actually the longer ones. Maybe it’s because I wanted to understand them more, and the more words there were, the more easily I felt I could do this, or maybe the longer ones allowed Rusco to better explain herself through the words and that’s why I enjoyed them?

I’d be lying if I said I’ve understood every poem I’ve ever read – I don’t think poems are made to be clear or easily understood, but there were a couple in this collection which I didn’t gain much from reading, especially in the your lovemaking section. Although, they were so short, that perhaps it doesn’t matter if I didn’t like a few – not much time wasted at all!

The emotion in Rusco’s writing is definitely what shines through; from lustful sexual tension to overwhelming love for her children, throughout, she never falters from the idea that poetry stems from an emotional outpouring, and her writing is a way of conveying it to other people. I would have liked perhaps a little more storytelling in her poems, but I also understand that the abstract nature of poetry is why people love it, so I’m sure other people would connect with the poems’ ambiguity. Overall, the poems were enjoyable, and to give you a taste, below, as well as the one at the beginning of the post, is one of my favourites from the collection:

When you cry
because your knee is scraped,
I ache.
When you sob because
the pool is closed,
I empathize.
When you come to me and say,
“I’m sorry.
I made a mistake.”

I weep.
deep within my breast.
And I try to surface
any words that convey:
“I love you too much
You are still my child.”

– mother’s love

From “your child”
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Review overview

CONNECTION8
WRITING7.5
IMPACT7.5
STYLE8

Summary

7.8Emotional, Vague, Meaningful

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